Gained weight over the past year? You’re not alone.
The latest survey by market research firm Ipsos found that 39 per cent of Singaporeans have seen a higher number on the scale since the Covid-19 pandemic, an increase of 9 per cent from 2020. And you’re not the exception if you haven’t been as healthy or fit as before: The 2020 National Population Health Survey, jointly conducted by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Health Promotion Board (HPB), noted that there has been a rise in chronic diseases and unhealthy lifestyles as the pandemic continues.
Apart from a 50 per cent spike in the number of people with high blood pressure in just two years, there has also been an increase in the diabetes prevalence rate despite a five-year war on the condition. In addition, fewer people have managed to achieve the recommended amount of physical activity.
It is perhaps unsurprising that there has also been an overall decline in mental health among people in Singapore. A 2021 survey by The Straits Times found that 76 per cent of the respondents have been feeling sad or depressed since the pandemic started, and another article by the newspaper reported a higher demand for therapy amid these uncertain times.
To find out how our readers are doing, we surveyed over 6,000 women for our What Women Want health and wellness report, in collaboration with consumer research and analytics firm Milieu Insight. We’ve picked out the key findings, and included resources that we hope will help recalibrate your physical and mental health goals this year.
According to HPB, you should aim for 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every week for a healthier you. Moderate physical activities include brisk walking, dancing and gardening, while vigorous physical activities include jogging or running, fast cycling and fast swimming.
Need some motivation to start moving again? Complete our crossword puzzle to remind yourself of the benefits of exercise.
For some serious workout motivation, check out these exciting gym classes in Singapore. Also, get inspired by women who are thriving in traditionally male-dominated sports.
TIP: Consider collecting a free fitness tracker from HPB and participating in the National Steps Challenge. The device not only tracks your steps, but also your heart rate, sleep and blood oxygen level. The best part? You can earn Healthpoints based on the number of steps you take each day, and then redeem your Healthpoints for shopping vouchers. Visit healthhub.sg for more information.
Why you need enough sleep
Dr Leow Leong Chai, director of Sleep Disorders Unit and senior consultant, Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, at Singapore General Hospital, says people who sleep for less than six hours per night on average have reduced life expectancy compared to those who sleep seven to nine hours per night.
He adds that insufficient sleep duration or poor quality sleep has been shown to affect daytime functioning in terms of cognition, decision making and memory, as well as being implicated in causing mood disturbances, weight gain, and many other chronic health conditions.
Our mental health affects how we think, feel, act, make choices and relate to others. We can start caring for it by identifying our emotional stressors – things that are constantly making us feel scared, anxious or helpless. If you don’t have someone you trust to confide in, you could consider consulting a therapist.
Femtech usually involves tracking periods and pregnancy, but is fast expanding to accommodate hormonal health, menopause and sexual pleasure. Some notable Singapore-based femtech start-ups include Zazazu, which offers a membership service for women that curates products and services centred on sexual well-being, and Ferne Health, an online platform that provides home-based tests and consultations for sexual health, particularly for women.
3 popular period-tracking apps to try
(flo.health – available on the App Store and Google Play)
You can choose from over 70 symptoms, such as bloating, cramping and mood, to input into your log to track the changes you experience during each cycle. It also comes with tons of quizzes, articles and insights that you can browse to learn more about your body.
Eve by Glow
(glowing.com – available on the App Store and Google Play)
It not only tracks your cycle, but also displays your health data in charts. And you can trust that it’ll be pretty accurate: The app is compatible with the Health app on the iPhone, which you can use to track your sleep, steps, walking and running, among other things.
(helloclue.com – available on the App Store and Google Play)
You can not only predict your cycle for up to three months in advance, but also access sexual and reproductive health content available on the app, which includes a podcast called Hormonal that explores how our hormones impact bodies and the world around us.
Top 5 concerns in 2022
Will our economy emerge from the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic this year? Will travel resume to what it was before? No one really knows, and it is only natural for us to be afraid of the unknown.
How’s the economy doing?
It’s understandable that money matters are the biggest concern on most people’s minds. In November last year, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said that although there was a 7 per cent gain in gross domestic product growth in 2021, it will slow to between 3 and 5 per cent this year amid an uneven recovery at home and lingering uncertainty over global growth. This is on top of the plan to increase the goods and services tax from 7 to 9 per cent between now and 2025.
However, there are measures taken to alleviate the eventual inflation.
“Similar to historic precedence, the government will likely introduce offsetting measures, such as U-save vouchers and S&CC rebates to help cushion the adverse impact, in particular on low-income households,” says Yun Liu, an economist at HSBC Global Research.